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Monday, May 14, 2012

Uh, Marijuana Is Never Harmful?

Posted by on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM

The endless font of bullshit coming from folks trying to oppose Initiative 502, a measure on the fall ballot to tax and regulate marijuana in Washington State, deserves a quick lashing. Their latest tantrum is a response to I-502 sponsor Roger Roffman, a doctor and former UW professor, who acknowledges that marijuana can be harmful if abused. Remember, Roffman is trying to legalize marijuana, and he explained in a speech recently that, contrary to claims that marijuana is completely harmless, marijuana "is injurious to young people and their families. There are people who are victims of marijuana. To hear an advocate say it's close to harmless is troubling." Legalizing pot, he points out, lets society deal better with its harms as a public health problem.

"Yes, one of the main proponents of the initiative said this," says a breathless, scandalized article in the pot blog Toke of the Town. Surely you can't sincerely want to legalize pot and say it has, uh, downsides like all other drugs. A commenter jumped in to explain that "marijuana/cannabis is not a drug. Its botanically an herb and go check your kitchen for other herbs you may or may not use on a daily basis."

This isn't just one idiot commenter, either. These people—and their message—are all over. A few of them went bananas on Facebook (sorry, yes, I'm referring to Facebook) over the weekend to criticize Roffman and make the case that pot isn't a drug at all. "Everyone knows alcohol is a drug, marijuana is a plant Dom," one of them wrote to me this weekend. Hold on: THC, which gets me so high I can barely speak, isn't a drug? "nope, are you nuts?" was the reply.

Look, I know I'm beating a crippled baby with a mace, here, but I'm sharing it because this is actually part of the thinking behind those self-proclaimed cannabis activists opposing I-502. Weirdly, they insist pot is still medicine—just not a drug. And because it isn't a drug, ostensibly, it requires no regulation, no DUI penalties, no limits on manufacturing. And heaven forbid, you can't admit that some people have a problem with marijuana abuse. You can't say anyone has ever driven too high ("i get high and drive all the time. but i dont drink and drive," one of them wrote). And you can't say someone has ever fucked up in school or at work because they were stoned. And any mention of pot's harms—because it's a drug—is enough to send them into a collective tizzy fit. It's like anarchy meets gluttony with a dash of Ron Paul.


Comments (58) RSS

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venomlash 1
Absolutely marijuana can be harmful.
You get intoxicated, you stand the risk of doing something stupid and maiming/embarrassing yourself. And even responsible marijuana use will, over time, damage your nerves' myelin. Heavy users are known to suffer from memory problems.
Will it kill you directly? No, it's got a very high lethal dose:effective dose ratio. But it still has its risks.
Posted by venomlash on May 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM · Report this
The rank stupidity of these people counters their own claim.
Posted by giffy on May 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Report this
"basically an herb"? Didn't we hear this recently in regards to pepper spray? Come on people.
Posted by Levislade on May 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
A bullshit font sounds like a good idea. Then we'd know what is truth and what is bullshit more easily.
Posted by cliche on May 14, 2012 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Plants can't be drugs? Who believes this?
Posted by Proteus on May 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 6
No one tell these people that oxygen can get you high. Their world will explode.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
@5: Seriously. Huge numbers drugs are plant derived. Heroin comes from poppies. Plant! Cocaine comes from coca leaves. Plant! Aspirin comes from willows. Plant! Penicillin comes from...a fungus, but close enough. Where do these people think we get drugs from?
Posted by Sean on May 14, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
@6: you mean after they accidentally cause a spark in their new oxygen chamber?
Posted by Sean on May 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
@7 And, of course, so does alcohol.
Posted by giffy on May 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
venomlash 10
@7: Fungus is not "close enough" to plants. Archaeplastids are bikonts, while fungi and metazoans are unikonts (opisthokonts, in fact).
Posted by venomlash on May 14, 2012 at 12:10 PM · Report this
@10: I know. It was intended as humor.
Posted by Sean on May 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM · Report this
Zebes 12
"We can't legalize pot- it's too harmless!"
Posted by Zebes on May 14, 2012 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 13
Pot heads are their own worst enemies.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 14, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 14
Has anyone considered that laws are written on paper, which is plant-derived, and are therefore ineffective and harmless?
Posted by MacCrocodile on May 14, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
tl;dr, white people problems, um... fuck the police?
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on May 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
Is there any way we can just legalize marijuana for everyone *except* these numbskulls? ;)
Posted by aiff on May 14, 2012 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 17
@13 is correct.

Massive Grow Op Restaurant Fire for the Unintentional Win/Whine Of The Day!
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Fnarf 18
Good lord. Alcohol is plant-based, and naturally occurring in many instances. And by their own definitions, pot is "medicine" but "not a drug", which makes no sense.

Of course pot can be harmful. In young people in particular, it can cause or exacerbate all kinds of psychological damage, increasing isolation, paranoia, depression, etc. Don't tell me this isn't true, BECAUSE IT HAPPENED TO ME. Does it happen to everybody? No, of course not. That's not the same thing at all as saying it "isn't a drug".

Pot needs to be NORMALIZED, not completely liberated. It's a drug AND a recreational substance; it should be treated like other drugs and other recreational substances. The state has a powerful interest in regulating these things just as it does in regulating automobiles, stockyards, or banks.

This kind of stoner idiocy is evidence of its own untruth, as these people are blatantly being harmed by their favorite herb: it's made them stupid.
Posted by Fnarf on May 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM · Report this
Hernandez 19
So a kid who flunks out of high school because he'd rather sit around and smoke all day isn't a problem? A young adult neglecting work, family and friends in favor of being high all the time is not a problem? An adult living a meager hand-to-mouth existence because feeding the pot habit is more important than taking charge of his life is not a problem? These are just examples I've seen in my own life, among many more examples of successful recreational marijuana usage, but still...

Sure, it's not the same thing as drunkenly plowing a car into someone, or teetering on the verge of death after a heroin overdose, but it is still substance abuse. It's still elevating pot consumption above all of life's other pursuits.
Posted by Hernandez on May 14, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 20
Like breating in burning vegetation is ever going to be 100% good for you.

I hate people who do not bother to research the drugs they choose to use. It has been clearly shown to be both physically and psychologically addictive to many people. It increases estrogen levels, which in men can lead to Gynecomastia (man boobs).

It has also been shown to lower reaction time, and can lead to temporary short term memory loss. Addicted users who stop smoking often suffer surprisingly deep depression as a withdrawal symptom.

As far as drugs go, it is basically as benign as you can get, but come on people; let's be realistic and truthful at least.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 14, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Best thing about legalisation: Never hearing the words, "It's just a plant, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan," ever again, and never again having subsequently to dig a shallow grave* with canonical True Friends.

There's a basic category error here: the notion that only harmless things should be allowed.

We allow people to fuck themselves up (and sometimes others) badly in the course of mountain climbing, martial arts practice (R.i.P. my knees), being in love, religion,..., yet none of those things should be banned through the use of State power.

Good thing, too, as there are no "good" plants or drugs. We live in an absolutely amoral universe in which no substance is 'good' or 'evil' in itself, and the more powerful the use of the substance, the greater the chance that one can do great good or great evil with it.

(Of course, some things are much more usually used for good or for ill...when this is negative and marked enough, it's expectable to see laws attempting to restrict or to eliminate their use. So, yeah, implicit in pro-{pot legalisation} is the notion that it is not just easily used for ill, that it is entirely possible to use it to good purpose...and legal restrictions [age- and {heavy machinery}-related] should attempt to minimise the bad whilst retaining most of the good---they will fail, often, but one must try. But as in drugs, in Law, the dose makes the poison.)

*If you think I'm serious about that last, you need the Hodgman Literary Tone Detector.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on May 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Sadly I had a family member who recently died because of cannabis being poorly implemented during his cancer treatment. I am so ready for the gray market to go away.
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on May 14, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 23
it's splitting hairs. the psychoactive compounds are "drugs".

but cannibus isn't a "plant-based" or "plant-derived" drug. it is a plant product, like seeds or flowers.

and it's pretty close to it's natural state in terms of processing, unlike, say, hash. similar to opium versus heroin. or coca leaves versus cocaine.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 24
If you have has a psychotic break for any reason (I've had one during a bipolar manic phase in my teens), marijuana will greatly increase the likelihood of another. My partner was told his pot use was fine by our doctor; I've been told by EVERY doctor worth their salt to avoid it at all costs.

It doesn't hurt that it's a migraine trigger for me as well and makes me puke. But, hell, legalize, regulate, and tax the hell out of it.
Posted by Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on May 14, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 25
Speaking as a once enthusiastic and frequent--now very occasional--imbiber, and a long-time, I really hate stoners.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on May 14, 2012 at 1:39 PM · Report this
"Just" a plant? Botany grad students have been working on strengthening this sh*t since 1970. At this point, it isn't even the same drug it was then! One hit of the good stuff and I don't even know who I am anymore. Sure it's a plant, but it's also an ongoing science experiment.
Posted by Prefunk on May 14, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 27
Speaking of splitting hairs, smoking MJ singes some of the hairs when you vaporize.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 14, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
balderdash 28
Digitalis is herbal too, you stupid fucking hippies.
Posted by balderdash on May 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
JonnoN 29
Dave's not here, man!
Posted by JonnoN on May 14, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 30
it can kill you if you are allergic to rag weeds (i.e. hay fever)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 14, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Can we legalize pot and ban stoners?
Posted by rocketgeek on May 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
So that means American Spirits are not a drug either, just a plant! Hooray! Where's a lighter?
Posted by FauxfauxAlex on May 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
"...and it's pretty close to it's natural state in terms of processing, unlike, say, hash. similar to opium versus heroin. or coca leaves versus cocaine." Apologies if I'm failing a sarcasm detection roll here, @23, but last time I checked opium and coca were both still drugs.
Posted by Beguine on May 14, 2012 at 7:22 PM · Report this
smade 34
Anyone see where I left my morning glory seeds? I gotta go drive my route.
Posted by smade on May 14, 2012 at 7:47 PM · Report this
YakHerder 35
Dom & Co., you are doing a great service by pointing out what morons these, um, morons are. The problem is that it's really hard to reason with a stoner. Pass the damn initiative already!
Posted by YakHerder on May 14, 2012 at 8:01 PM · Report this
ams_ 36
Pot seems to increase psychosis in young people, not just exacerbate pre-existing conditions, according to recent research. Also, it can cause ventricular tachycardia and that can kill you!! Super rare, but it's in the literature.
Posted by ams_ on May 14, 2012 at 8:03 PM · Report this
@26 I'm so sick of the it's so much stronger it's not the same drugs BS. It's a lie baby boomers tell themselves to justify a double standard directed at their own kids.

Back in the 1980s there was good pot and bad pot. Imported exotics like Thai were loaded w/ THC, not to mention the much wider prevalence of hash back then. Nor Cal was producing kind Indicas as well.

I think the difference today is that it's all pretty much good - no more seed brown Mexi brick that gave you a headache before you could smoke enough to be really stoned. But even that dumped in a brownie mix got it done.

Anyway I've heard the stronger now argument ad nauseum but never any real evidence. In the end if one hit or ten get you high that's what you smoke, and one probably is a lot healthier than reefing on a nasty swaggy joint for ten minutes.
Posted by Parsley Sage on May 14, 2012 at 8:22 PM · Report this
This just in: people say wacky things on Facebook. In other news, water is wet.
Posted by John Toker on May 14, 2012 at 9:05 PM · Report this
Wait, is this what they mean about people getting the vapors?!
Posted by DannyG on May 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 40
know what drug has ZERO permanent side effects (for men)?

anabolic steroids (women can get a permanently enlarged clit/mini-dick from prolonged use, but that's it. also, roid rage is bs...but we gotta save baseball, so go congress, go.)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM · Report this
venomlash 41
@40: You had better be trolling. Anabolic steroids can shrink your testimucles.
Posted by venomlash on May 15, 2012 at 12:02 AM · Report this
Uhhh, the origin of the word DRUG comes from the Dutch "droge" which means DRY. The original source of the word DRUG is from "dry" medicinal herbs..... seems someone didn't understand the Dutch and thought "droge" meant MEDICINE...;-D
Posted by pupuguru on May 15, 2012 at 2:40 AM · Report this
Perhaps the far greater harm lies in intolerance and prohibition. Perhaps the harm in I 502 has to do with the absence of values and the presence of commercial greed and control. I 502 seems to be the epitome of the 1% elitism in business, law and power controls.... just a thought while ya argue over semantics and such like bullshit...;-D
Posted by pupuguru on May 15, 2012 at 2:45 AM · Report this
malcolmxy 44

temporary. they bounce back like the little champs they are when you stop using the drug.

bruce lee took them most of his adult life (and no link between them and mysterious brain swelling or aneurisms either)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 15, 2012 at 4:13 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 45
@44: You are forgetting the fact that they have been shown to permanantly alter and damage chromosomes.

If you want a drug that has no ill effects on the body per se, look no farther to heroin. The reason people get so fucked on heroin is not a physical effect of the drug, but rather because they neglect eating, sleeping, health care, etc. Also of course there are the inherent dangers of intravenous drug use.

If you manage to avoid all those pitfalls, you will suffer no physical problems, aside from the realities of being addicted to a substance. Pure heroin has no detrimental effect on the body outside of making you addicted.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 15, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
venomlash 46
@45: Wikipedia says it also causes constipation.
Posted by venomlash on May 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
malcolmxy 47

yeah...also, the lack of purity in street opiates can be an issue. with h, it's more about the harmful side effects of not having it.

it can cause some permanent liver and intestinal issues, though.

you got anything on the chromosome stuff? i'd be interested to read it.
Posted by malcolmxy on May 15, 2012 at 8:06 AM · Report this
NaFun 48
@45 - uhhh, other than risk of overdose. Therapeutic dose vs lethal dose is a pretty narrow window. Also nausea.
Posted by NaFun on May 15, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 49
I should have clarified I was only talking about pure heroin, in non-lethal doses. I would consider both of those to be one of the inherent dangers of intravenous drugs I mentioned above.

Regarding steroid abuse and chromosomal damage, I am very limited to what I can access at my office, but I think this should be a decent start:…

Very dry and academic, tried to find a more reader friendly study but was unsuccessful. Basically, it shows that anabolic steroids have a genotoxic and cytotoxic effect on the certain chromosomes studied.

It should also be noted that almost every drug stunts growth and both physical and mental development in young children, which has not really been discussed here. In teenagers and developing children, marijuana has been proven to shrink and stunt areas of the brain associated with social learning and development.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
According to some sources, cannabis tis the safest therapeautically active substance know to man,,,,, too much opiate will kill ya dead, dude..... same with coca.. too much and ya die but rave on mofo, cause ya know, ya know....
Posted by pupuguru on May 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this
@22, you mean that cannabis did not save the life of the patient as had been expected? Please explain what you mean....
Posted by pupuguru on May 15, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Report this
malcolmxy 52

twice the number of people die each year from aspirin than do heroin overdose. the window might be a little wider than you've been lead to believe .

the nausea comes and goes quickly, and it's not a permanent side effect.

(most people i've known who OD'd did so immediately after a forced period of sobriety. not thinking about their tolerance having gone down, they do it up like old times...oops)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 15, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Bonefish 53
One of my biggest pet-peeves is when pretend-activists damage the movement they claim to support in the name of appearing "more radical than thou."

Radical is great when it's valid, guys, but it doesn't automatically make you a truer devotee to a cause. We don't need radical forms of drug legalization anymore than we need radical forms of fire safety protocol.

Less narcissistic obsession with image; more pragmatic focus on what is or isn't a good idea.
Posted by Bonefish on May 16, 2012 at 12:55 AM · Report this
venomlash 54
@52: "twice the number of people die each year from aspirin than do heroin overdose"
In 2007, about 2000 people died from accidental overdoses where heroin was the main culprit. (source) It's hard to find information about aspirin poisoning (probably because it's SO FUCKING RELATIVELY RARE), but in 2005, there were 20 fatalities attributed solely to aspirin poisoning. (source, go to page 819)
You are making shit up, malcomxy, and it's not earning you any credibility, trust, or goodwill. Please fuck off.
Posted by venomlash on May 16, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 55
Oh Venomlash, Malcomxy was being such a good boy today, and now you went and knocked down his sand castle. Even if you are clearly correct.

Batten down the hatches Sloggers, I smell another shitstorm coming.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Another addition to this conversation that doesn't get mentioned enough- Marijuana can precipitate the onset of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Like any mind altering substance, some people may experience dangerous side effects, others may not. However, this is a real risk, and it needs to be weighed- all the more reason to discourage teenage pot use especially.
Posted by lambykins on May 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM · Report this
onion 57
46 FTW.
Posted by onion on May 17, 2012 at 8:19 PM · Report this
In any activist movement there is going to be a range of views and understanding and involvement by different persons. The "its a plant so it can't possible harm you" view, while clearly incorrect and should not be put forward as credible view of proponets of marijuana use, these guys are still on the right side, imo. They should not be made to be alienated, perhaps gently persuaded with accuate research and information. It comes down to better education of the general public including those in the pro and con camps, and looking at the information with an open mind.
Posted by bagel on May 17, 2012 at 8:53 PM · Report this

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